This post is included in the August 2015 Nonprofit Blog Carnival: Sharing Progress and Communicating Accomplishments
We all know someone who talks too much about himself or brags about all the wonderful things she’s done. Once this person gets going, it’s enough to make you want to flee the room. Imagine your donors having the same reaction when all your communications sound like one big bragfest. You don’t want to be that guy
Of course, you want to share your accomplishments, and it’s possible do it without bragging. Here’s how.
You don’t need to tell your donors your organization is great. They wouldn’t have given you money if they didn’t think highly of you.
Let your donors know they’re great because they helped you make a difference for the people or community you serve. Give specific examples. Because of donors like you, Rachel can sleep in her own bed tonight.
All your communications should be donor or audience-centered. One way to ensure this is to use the word you more than we or us. Can Your Organization Pass the Donor-Centered Test?
Share a story
Telling a story is a great way to share accomplishments. Whether it’s in the first or third person, you can give a personal account of how you’re making a difference. Remember to focus on the people you serve and keep your organization in the background.
Photos and videos featuring the people you serve is another good way to share accomplishments.
Focus on why
Instead of the usual laundry list you see in annual reports, such as we served over X number of students in our tutoring program, focus on why that’s important, too. Students in our tutoring program are now reading at their grade level and have a better chance of graduating from high school on time.
Show don’t tell
Too many newsletters and annual reports ramble on about how an organization is number one in such and such, or there was a crisis and Y organization came in to solve it.
Go back to stories and examples. You can’t ignore your organization all together, but instead of saying we were the first organization to come in and help the earthquake victims, say Thanks to you, residents of the earthquake-ravaged town now have access to clean drinking water and medical care. How you made a difference is more important than being first or best.
Current donors want to see the results of their gift. Potential donors may be more interested in your reputation, but they also want to see how their donation will make a difference.
A quick checklist
Before you share accomplishments in an appeal letter, thank you letter, newsletter article, social media update, annual report, etc. Ask these questions:
Is this donor/audience-centered?
Are we focusing on the people/community we serve?
Are we showing results?
Are we saying why this important?
Are we bragging too much about ourselves?